The Chrismas Archives

DIGGING AROUND THE ROOTS

If we go way back into history, to the time people refer to as 'pagan', that is where most of our Christmas customs came from. But like many things in our social culture, they have evolved. We are NOT practicing a pagan custom when we decorate our homes for Christmas, because that was 'christianised' by the early missionary monks of St Benedict, under St Augustine himself, following the rules set down by the then, leader of the whole Christian Church, pope St Gregory.

Bacchus

He told the monks to encourage the people of Britain to decorate their temples for the 'nativities of the saints' rather than to their earlier deities; and to celebrate likewise, eating the animals they had slain, for food for themselves, rather than for making sacrifices.

Gregory was a man way ahead of his time. He realised that the Church would make more converts by 'adding on' to what was already an inherent practice, rather than trying to eliminate everything as 'wrong' or 'bad', or as we are now inclined to phrase it, 'pagan'. However, the focus of these new joyous and innocent celebrations was to be the knowledge that God had sent His Son to lead the way to , in simple terms, a better future. They were celebrating the Birth of Jesus.

So all of these things which we enjoy doing - house decorating, carol-singing, celebrating, giving gifts, remembering the poor - they are all part of an attempt by peoples for thousands of years, to do the right thing, 'be good' so that their efforts would help their god fight the elements of Chaos and Darkness. Over the centuries, these actions and beliefs became confused, and often corrupted, bringing about the (particularly Roman) debauchery and excesses of Saturnalian feastings. And it is from THIS period that those critics of modern Christmas, draw their objections.